Is Tech Changing Sport for the Better or Worse?

Video assisted referee

Technology has had as significant an impact on sport as it has on every other aspect of our lives. And while the overall effect is usually a positive one, there can be some negative side effects. Here, we will look at some of the biggest technological game changers for those who play, watch or officiate in professional sports.

Snicko, line calls and VAR

The most talked about, and arguably the most contentious, aspect of technology in sport is when it is used as part of the officiating and decision-making process. In cricket, third umpire replays have been used to give better run-out decisions since the early 1990s. In recent years, the technology has advanced to snicko and DRS. The technology is vital for umpires, who otherwise must base a decision on tiny margins seen in a split second from 22 yards away. However, critics feel that the whole concept of a batsman being able to ask for a review undermines the game’s basic tenet that the umpire’s decision is final.

Football has followed a similar path with VAR, and it’s fair to say that the controversy surrounding its first year of use in the Premier League shows that tech can cause as many problems as it solves. Delays to the game are an annoyance that nobody wants – and for as long as they deliver as many bad decisions as good ones, the critics will not be silenced.

Live streaming and live betting

While the direct applications of technology into cricket and football might not always be perfect, few can criticise the mobile tech that has brought new levels of engagement for fans. Live streaming is now available on more platforms and from more sources than ever before. It has also forced the broadcasting networks into rethinking their strategies and reassessing the value of those multi-year big money contracts.

One of the more surprising places you can stream sport is via bookmaker sites. It’s an example of how the online providers are creating an experience that is ever closer to walking into a bookmaker’s, where the games or races are shown on TV. Tech has also given them the scope to offer a wider range of betting experiences. Take a look at the betting guide here to learn more about what is available and from what sports betting providers.

Big data means big gains

As long ago as the 1950s, there were analysts poring over every aspect of an athlete’s performance, looking for trends and for angles they could take to find another half a percent. The age of big data has brought them numerous new opportunities, especially when coupled with wearable tech.

Now, coaches can see information on exercise regimes, diet and any other factor you can think of, correlating these with performance metrics. Even better, the data can provide early warnings of any drop in performance that might be indicative of a strain or injury.

It all boils down to better performance, fewer injuries occurring and shorter recovery times when they do. Surely that’s one application of technology in sport that everyone can agree is a good thing!